Belgium struggling at World Cup after surprise loss

Abdelhamid Sabiri sent all of Morocco into the air just over a quarter of an hour before the end. He fired a free kick from a very oblique right angle towards the goal, and Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saw the ball too late and had no chance. In extra time, Zakaria Aboukhlal settled the result after an in-form attack.

The victory gave Morocco three very surprising and important points in the fight for advancement.

– We played with the fear of losing, said Belgium coach Roberto Martínez.

Morocco are in 2nd place in the group with a lower goal difference than Croatia in front. Croatia won their match against Canada 4-1.

The championship in Qatar is probably the last opportunity for the Belgian “golden generation” to lift the World Cup trophy. They often entered championships as favorites for gold, but never won a world or EC championship.

Belgium should win the big game against Croatia in the last round to qualify. A tie stands if Morocco goes for a big loss to Canada.

The Belgian team was at times outplayed by Canada in the opening match, but fought back to a 1-0 victory. Even on Sunday, the star gallery didn’t have the finesse to sit down, but this time it had to suffer a defeat.

Change of guardian

Yassine “Bono” Bonou is Morocco’s first goalkeeper, but after the teams sang the national anthem he had to throw in the towel. Munir Mohamedi was thrown onto the pitch at short notice.

Belgium had a lot of ball at the start, but without creating very big chances. Morocco finally tried to climb a little higher up the pitch towards the end of the half.

Courtois was a bit uncomfortable after a comeback after 25 minutes, but the Real Madrid keeper solved it all with a nice fake on Youssef En-Nesyri. It was the entertainment performance so far in the game.


In added time in the 1st half, Morocco thought they had taken the lead when Hakim Ziyech sent a free kick into the goal behind Courtois. However, a VAR check showed Romain Saïss was offside when he disturbed the goalkeeper. Judge Cesar Ramos had no choice but to cancel.

Morocco continued to pressure the Belgians and created a few chances. Belgium struggled and after 73 minutes the ball was in the Africans’ goal. Again, it was a free kick, and this time the goal was held.

After the late goal, Belgium had to go on, and in extra time Morocco rode well. Eventually the ball came to Aboukhlal who hammered the ball into the roof of the net.

(© NTB)

Alice Williamson

"Explorer. Food advocate. Analyst. Freelance bacon practitioner. Future teen idol. Proud pop culture expert."

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